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Windows 10: When is “Free” Expensive?


How scared is Microsoft? The OS that once cost as much as $339 for a full installation is now …a FREE upgrade.

Microsoft is cheering itself on, claiming a big victory with 14 million new W10 users (out of more than a billion users) in the first 24-hours.

Yet “free” smacks of desperation, an attempt to stay relevant in a New World of mobile devices where the billion-dollar monopolist of PCs (91.45%) has only managed to garner a 1.87% OS market share.

But “free” gets the job done…and keeps Windows relevant until Microsoft figures out its next move.

Of course, “free” is also a mea culpa for the unpopular Windows 8 thrust upon the market.

What do AV integrators need to know about the Windows 10 launch?

Windows 10 is officially available as a free upgrade to people using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on qualified devices, or pre-installed on new devices.

Many consumers (about 500 million) with Windows 7 have little reason to upgrade now. Sure, they could get Cortana (the Microsoft equivalent of Siri) and some better features but there is no imperative. Windows 8 folks will probably jump. But new computer sales in the autumn will come bundled with Windows 10.

There is strong interest from business users in Windows 10, but that’s unlikely to happen before some time in 2016.

During the Q4 2015 earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella spoke of “three distinct phases” in the adoption of Windows 10:


  1. The “upgrade phase”, starting now
  2. The autumn time frame, when “you will see the devices from all the OEMs going into the holiday quarter”
  3. Then the enterprise upgrade



Microsoft has just rolled out a free evaluation version of Windows 10 Enterprise edition that you can play with or 90 days. You should probably try it before your customers do.

While many software application and apps have already prepared to co-exist with W10, the impact on our AV business may come in the question of compatibility with peripherals and devices. And it will creep up on you…at first, for the next few months you won’t bump into any issues and you’ll forget about this article. Then as adoption penetration in businesses goes up, maybe into 2016, you’ll bump into some frustrating compatibility issues.

One full year from now we may have gotten over the Windows 10 bump…but then the fun starts.

You see, like Microsoft, I said “free” but I didn’t exactly say “forever free” did I?

In other words: the software is free until it’s not…

Microsoft is moving from a software-package business model to a cloud model. Chances are likely they will trade the 500,000 users that would have paid 160 euro for W10 for a model like Office360: each of the 14 million may start to get a bill for 9 euro a month…for the lifetime of the software use.

Yes, in the world of software there is no free lunch…only meals that finally turn out to be 10 times more expensive.

Go Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation Version